School days
Ask me no questions, I'll...cry.


A few years ago I heard someone speaking on a radio program about the concept of margins. I can’t find any information on whatever broadcast it was that I heard, despite my valiant effort of Googling “margins” and clicking through five out of a bazillion pages of returns before getting irritated and quitting.
So, clearly. That information is not to be had, as information. Instead I will share with you my foggy memory of what I heard.
The person that day talked about intentionally building space in your day. So rather than scheduling events back to back, you would leave a gap between them. This way, if something went wrong (as something is WONT to do), you would have time to recover and regroup before the next event. And what’s more, if nothing went wrong, there would be time to simply be. To enjoy your family and your life.
Sounds good, no?
It made complete sense to me. As a stay-at-home mom for nine years now, this was my life. There was the built-in buffer of naptime, for instance. No matter how crammed full a day was, we had to be home between the hours of X and Y for some child to nap. This left a natural recovery period in each day.
Plus, my natural tendency as a mom has always been to lean toward serenity rather than accomplishment. I’d rather claim a day for quiet puttering around the house than push onward to outside events. I feel best when life is at a slower pace. The kids do better, and my laundry is more apt to get done.
But I always wondered, peering out at people I know. There are moms, women I admire greatly, who manage to fling it all into their metaphorical cart. They work, they have hobbies, and they care for their children. From where I stand, it looks as though they are able to do it with aplomb, with peace. And at the end of the day? Look how much more they’ve accomplished. I watched those superwomen and wondered if my precious margins aren’t an excuse for not pushing myself as hard as I should.
Recently there’s been a convergence of events that have…afforded me the opportunity to try life out without my margins. There are simply too many demands on my time. If I steal an extra hour for lunch with a dear friend, I will pay for it later that day as I shovel dishes into the dishwasher and try to explain addition to Max at the same time. The other day I was listening to a CD when the phone rang. It was right in the middle of one of my favorite songs, so I paused it to answer the phone. Four days later I walked by the CD player to see that the song was still paused.
Newspapers are pitched in the recycle bin, unread. Sometimes I’ll set a newspaper aside, intending to read it, then two weeks later I’ll give up, and pitch it in with the others. Emails stack up in my inbox, awaiting a response. Messages linger in my voice mail, and letters sit unopened on my desk.
I’m sure if I was better organized I could get to the details. Most of them, anyhow. But a tighter schedule wouldn’t answer the anxiety of knowing there is no room for error. Today I got a nail in my tire, and in the middle of my day I had to stop and get that tire fixed. I wanted to cry. That nail seemed like a personal attack, and I knew my day wouldn’t recover like I wanted it to.
I remember hearing a sermon once, where the priest, Father Praveen, spoke of how people drift away from God. It's not that they stand up one day and decide, "Oh forget this God stuff. I'm outta here." They're like sheep, heads down, moving one nibble of grass at a time. This nibble leads to the next, and the next, and the next. Eventually they're far away from where they started, and don't even know how they got there. That's how my life feels right now. Head down, task after task after task.
Things will settle down eventually, and soon I hope to have time for the things I really want.
And better still, time BETWEEN the things I really want.
I know there are others who accomplish more, who do it all and do it better. I don’t care. They can have it all. I’d rather have my margins.



Ow. that hit home.

Amma D

Yes, indeed. It is a book, by Richard Swenson, titled Margins, sitting on our bookshelf. But none of us have time to read it...and that is a parable of our life!


sheep can eat themselves right off cliffs. it's good you want some time to raise your head once and a while.


I'm sorry, I had something to say, but now I'm busy giggling at your mom. Hee.


There is a book called "Margin" by Dr. Richard Swenson. Finding the time to read it may be the problem, but I recommend it highly. :-)


I also prefer having margins myself. :)


First time commenter, here. I love your blog. I am a marginphile, and my husband is a metaphorical cart-piler. Most of the time we balance each other out -- I'll get him to relax and smell the margins, so to speak, and he'll push me to get more done. It works quite well. I think some days he'd prefer it if I'd ditch the margins, but I can't do it. I think I'd go nuts without 'em.




This was a great post, as so many of yours are.

I hope you'll find time in between nibbles to enter Blogging for Books in October. :-)


I'm with you. It is hard when you know moms who work a lot, or moms who stay at home but are the type that sew their own clothes and make their own granola, and they all manage to pull it off. I am not a type A kind of person, and I drive myself nuts if I try to be.


Time management is a challenge for all walks of life that have any drive to them. I notice you took time to compose that blog entry, so your priorities remain intact. Now if we didn't need to sleep....just think.


Hello Beloved Cousin,

Ah... Margins, yes. I long for them but I'm not sure I would know what to do with them if I had them. I'll have to buy Swenson's book and let it sit on my shelf for a few years while I feel guilty for not ever reading it :).


Well said. The best of live seems to be lived in the margins.





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